Manor Signs Off F3 Euroseries
WITH HOCKENHEIM PODIUMManor Motorsport’s Koudai Tsukakoshi took his fourth runner-up position of the 2008 Formula 3 Euroseries at Hockenheim in Germany this morning, Sunday, 26th October, during a fairly chaotic final race of the season.Round 20 certainly didn’t turn out the way drivers and teams had expected with three major accidents resulting in a trio of Safety Car periods – the last of the three bringing an early conclusion to Sunday’s encounter.Japanese star Tsukakoshi, who has been Dinnington-based Manor’s most successful driver of the 2008 campaign, wasn’t quite able to secure a victory during the year but his fourth second position – from the front row of the grid – did lift him into equal sixth place in the final championship standings on 36 points.Honda Racing’s young protégé also secured a top seven finish during Saturday’s 19th round of the season. Having qualified with the seventh fastest time, he was handed a five place grid penalty due to an incident during the previous event at Le Mans, France.Therefore lining up 12th at the start of race one, Tsukakoshi charged through to a well deserved points result, again making him the highest placed Manor driver.He said: “Unfortunately the second race was very short and it was stopped so I couldn’t start any attempts to overtake. Second place today is a good way to round off my season as I won’t race at Macau next month. I hope to be back in Formula 3 Euroseries next year.”For British sensation Sam Bird, the final meeting of his maiden season in F3 Euroseries didn’t turn out the way he had hoped with no points to show for his efforts. Qualifying 10th fastest for the opening race of the weekend, the Surrey driver started in ninth due to his team-mate’s misfortune but ended the encounter in 17th place.Running strongly early on in the top 10, Bird did slip a place a handful of laps into the race before getting back into 10th position on lap 15 at the expense of Erik Janis. Five laps from the end, however, the Manor star was handed a drive-through penalty for ‘leaving the track’ at Turn One and so after pitting he rejoined down the order.Today’s race was over in a flash for Bird when he was forced to pit with damage after a robust opening lap. Just two corners into round 20, Bird was caught up in contact involving Richard Philippe and Frederic Vervisch, resulting in a very disappointing conclusion to the season for the talented young racer.Kazuya Oshima, Manor’s only race winner this year, started Saturday’s race from 18th on the grid but was taken out of proceedings early on following contact at the hairpin during the aftermath of a large accident for Brendon Hartley.Placing him stone last for race two, the Japanese racer could do no more than finish in 19th place due to the total lack of racing mileage available after the three Safety Car interventions and the eventual red flag.Speaking at the end of the weekend, Manor team owner John Booth said: “Obviously the second race was shocking with all of the accidents but it was great to end the season on the podium with Koudai, the result was a much needed boost for everyone. For Kazuya it was a difficult weekend but at least he came through it unscathed.“Sam was unfortunate not to score on Saturday and then today he had a bent rear push-rod which ruled him out of race two. He was hit in a first corner tangle and when he got to the hairpin he couldn’t turn in as the wheel was already up in the air – that’s why he ran wide and then came into the pits to retire.”Tsukakoshi ends the 2008 F3 Euroseries as Manor Motorsport’s best placed driver in equal sixth place on 36 points with Bird 11th overall on 23 points and the team’s former driver Niall Breen – who has missed the last few rounds – 16th on eight points. Oshima, meanwhile, concludes the season in 19th place on seven points.In the teams’ championship, Manor ends up fifth on 76.5 points having scored at every race meeting this year, with the exception of the trip to Pau, France, early in the season.Full replays of both of the weekend’s races from Hockenheim will be screened on cable and digital satellite channel Motors TV at 21.30 tomorrow night, Monday, 27th October, with further broadcasts throughout the coming week – check listings for details.Lancaster joins Bird and Oshima at Manor for 55th Macau F3 Grand PrixYorkshireman Jon Lancaster will join Manor’s regular F3 drivers Sam Bird and Kazuya Oshima as part of the team’s three car assault on the 55th Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix, the annual blue riband event of the international F3 racing calendar which takes place three weeks from now over the weekend 15th/16th November.The 19-year-old from Leeds, who competed in F3 Euroseries this year with the ART Grand Prix team, has strong hopes ahead of the prestigious race – an event won by Manor Motorsport in 2005 With Brazilian star Lucas di Grassi.Team boss Booth commented: “Kazuya was third at Macau last year so he stands a great chance of doing well this time and Sam was the best rookie in 2007 at Macau so he too can expect to do well. We’re delighted to have signed Jon (Lancaster), it’ll be good to run with a Yorkshireman in the team again – we’re looking forward to it.”The Macau F3 GP weekend will begin on Thursday, 13th November, with the initial free practice session at 10.30 (local time) while first qualifying will follow at around 14.00. On Friday, 14th November, the second qualifying session will take place at 14.45 and then the qualification race is timetabled to begin at 13.45 on Saturday, 15th November.Sunday, 16th November, will see the Windsor Arch 55th Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix get underway at 15.30.